March 2017 will be busy for Laura Marling – apart from releasing her sixth album, she’s touring the UK – including a stop at The Roundhouse.
‘Semper Femina’, her sixth studio album in nine years, was recorded in Los Angeles with Alabama Shakes producer Blake Mills and is preceded by the song ‘Soothing’.
Featuring a video that marks Marling’s directing debut, its visuals are inspired by a series of vivid dreams she experienced while making the album.
With a title meaning “always a woman”, it’s an album that explores femininity and female relationships.
“I started out writing it as if a man was writing about a woman. And then I thought it’s not a man, it’s me — I don’t need to pretend it’s a man to justify the intimacy of the way I’m looking and feeling about women. It’s me looking specifically at women and feeling great empathy towards them and by proxy towards myself,” Marling says of the new songs, written on the tour in support of her previous album, 2015’s ‘Short Movie’.
It was a period she describes as “a masculine time” in her life.
“A certain time when I’d sort of gone on this trip of abandoning any sexuality,” she explains. “Now in retrospect I was hopped up on the times, but I was living in LA, and LA does have an amazing knack for removing sexuality. I found it quite scary; I was scared of what I perceived to be the disappearance of my feminine side. But it gave me an ability to look at women in a different way and consider how I’d been looked at.”
To help her transform these songs into an album, she enlisted Mills as producer. “I really enjoyed producing but it’s just not my calling. “I’d love to do it for someone else, but for myself it was too difficult to play both roles,” she says of the experience of producing ‘Short Movie’ herself.
“A lot of songwriters I know can’t bear to be overheard when they’re songwriting, but I quite like it — I write in venues or dressing rooms when there are eight people in the room. There’s something thrilling and weirdly voyeuristic about it. But I like the idea that it will be heard, and if I’m producing it feels like it might only be heard by me.”
And Marling definitely wants the album to be heard by others.
“Innocent creativity had a little flourish in the last ten years. But also I’m getting older and now I think: ‘What use is that?’ It’s not rooted, not pointed, not political. For me right now I feel like it’s more important that I have a practical use.”
- ‘Semper Femina’ is released on 10 March 2017. Laura Marling plays The Roundhouse on 17 March.